Is Celery Juice Beneficial for IBS?

If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen celery juice come across your feed daily. What’s the hype all about? Proponents of celery juice claim that it has healing properties and may be the answer to many of our health problems, including digestive disorders. They claim that there are enzymes in celery which raise the hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach, which helps digest foods and prevents them from fermenting in the gut (ie cause bloating and gas). They claim other health benefits could also be due to undiscovered “cluster salts” that can kill off pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. While these claims sound pretty good, they are exaggerated and not supported by science.

Followers of the celery juice trend claim that they notice clearer skin, improved digestion, increased energy levels, and help with weight loss. If research doesn’t back the claims, why are people noticing results?

The Science

Celery, in its whole form, is contains a variety of nutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, B Vitamins, Phytonutrients, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, and Phosphorus. Celery is also rich in fiber and prebiotics, which can aid in digestion and support beneficial gut bacteria (see below for considerations with IBS).

There are studies that show celery intake may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, reduce water retention, and improve digestive health. However, many of these studies are small, are only done on animals and not humans, and do not specifically study celery juice. We are not sure of the direct effect celery juice may have, as well as the quantity of celery needed to cause these beneficial effects. Also, many other fruits and vegetables can lead to these effects, so there’s no reason to assume that celery juice alone is the answer.

Considerations for IBS

While celery is a great addition to a healthy diet, it is also high FODMAP. FODMAPs are gas-causing carbohydrates (makes you think twice about the stomach acid claim, huh?), which can lead to negative symptoms in those with IBS, including bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea.

Celery, when consumed in more than 1/4 stalk serving, is high in the FODMAP subgroup mannitol. There are no studies to show if juicing celery changes the mannitol content, but if we compare it to other high FODMAP foods that are juiced, like apples, we can confidently assume the juice is still high. If you have followed the low FODMAP and found that mannitol is a trigger for you, it’s best to avoid celery juice. (If you haven’t walked through the diet, it’s help to find your triggers. Learn more here). If you found that mannitol is not a trigger for you, you could give celery juice a try, but start with a smaller portion and increase, as tolerated. Is it your missing IBS cure? Nope, so if you don’t like it or it causes symptoms, let it go.

My Recommendations

A plant-rich diet is shown to offer the benefits listed above from celery: improved health markers. One vegetable alone is not the cure-all to all of our problems, so beware of messages that make those claims. There’s no harm in adding celery juice to your diet, unless it triggers your IBS symptoms or it replaces a nutritionally balanced meal. Juice is never recommended to replace meals, as that practice could lead to malnutrition and disordered eating.

So why do many people see a benefit from celery juice? My guess is that the benefits come from a mixture of increased vegetable intake and increased water intake. Both of these habits have been shown to lead to similar effects that followers are raving about with this green juice. It’s also important to think about other lifestyle changes that may accompany an addition of celery juice into the diet, like an increase in vegetable intake, more mindfulness around food and life, fewer processed foods, less sugary beverage intake, less caffeine, and/or more physical activity. Many health trends inspire followers to adapt additional healthy behaviors that can compound the positive effects they are noticing.


Sources:

Wesam Kooti, Nahid Daraei. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery (Apium graveolens L). J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct; 22(4): 1029–1034. Published online 2017 Jul 13. doi: 10.1177/2156587217717415

Tabassum N, Ahmad F. Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertensionPharmacognosy Reviews. 2011;5(9):30-40. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.79097.

Moghadam MH, Imenshahidi M, Mohajeri SA. Antihypertensive Effect of Celery Seed on Rat Blood Pressure in Chronic AdministrationJournal of Medicinal Food. 2013;16(6):558-563. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2664.

Al-Howiriny T, Alsheikh A, Alqasoumi S et al. Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. Pharm Biol. 2010 Jul;48(7):786-93

J Cao, X Zhang, Q Wang. Influence of flavonoid extracts from celery on oxidative stress induced by dichlorvos in rats. Human and Experimental Toxicology. 2011 Nov; 11. https://doi.org/10.1177/0960327111426585